British Airways turns away passenger after claiming ‘UK passports expire after nine years’

On Friday 4 November, Laura Savage arrived at London Heathrow Terminal 5 in good time to board her British Airways flight to Oslo.

She had a ticket for flight BA762 to the Norwegian capital – plus a passport valid for outbound travel to Norway, and anywhere else in the Schengen Area, until 12 October 2024.

But British Airways ground staff stopped Ms Savage, 35, at the departure gate. They told her UK passports could no longer be used once they were over nine years old. The staff refused to let her board and BA kept her fare.

Ms Savage, a property stylist from Oxfordshire, then contacted British Airways to protest that she had been wrongly denied boarding.

But BA doubled down on its decision to turn her away. The Customer Services department responded: “As you weren’t having a valid passport, our staff didn’t allow you to board the flight.”

She has since emailed the airline more than 10 times with proof that her passport comfortably meets post-Brexit requirements, without a response.

Ms Savage then contacted The Independent, saying: “It has been beyond frustrating trying to complain and get compensation from them. The only way to make a complaint is via email, and they are just not responding to me.”

After a very early start from her home, Ms Savage parked at Heathrow and passed through Terminal 5 security as normal. But at the gate for the 7.55am departure, British Airways ground staff told Ms Savage her passport was too close to expiry to be acceptable.

They insisted UK passports cease to be valid for travel to the European Union and wider Schengen Area nine years after their issue date.

This has never been the case. While the UK was a member of the EU, passports were valid up to their expiry date. Since Brexit, UK travellers are treated by Europe as “third-country nationals”. The passport must not be more than 10 years old on the day of outbound travel. On the intended day of return, it must have at least three months before expiry.

Ms Savage’s passport is valid for travel out to Norway, and any other Schengen Area country, until 12 October 2024 for a stay until January 2025.

“I had to forfeit my trip, plus waste my money on the plane ticket, parking and fuel, when this was really actually not my fault, but theirs,” she said.

Under European air passengers’ rights rules, Ms Savage appears due a full refund for the flight plus £220 in compensation for being wrongfully denied boarding.

A spokesperson for British Airways said: “We’re sorry for our customer’s experience and our teams are working hard to resolve this matter.”

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